I queued at Head Records in Leamington Spa for just under an hour, which was absolutely fine, it really could have been worse. I have a problem with my neck, which means that standing up like that for an hour is rather painful, and I can’t take medication for it as if I do I can’t then legally drive, so I was pretty relieved to arrive at the front of the queue and finally get inside. It is really quite traumatic being in the queue, slowly approaching the entrance and watching people who have already been in leave with their albums as one of these people may be carrying the last copy of something you want. It is also a bit of an eye opener, I was genuinely surprised at some of the folk and how much they’d bought. One guy brought a helper to carry the stuff, she didn’t even go in the shop, just waited outside for her partner to come out and help with the carrying, I think he had somewhere in the region of 50 albums, which a conservative estimate would be in the region of £1000 worth, which is crazy and I immediately thought, ‘Re-Seller’ which may not be entirely fair, maybe he saved all year for this event, but I couldn’t possibly imagine why anybody would want 50 of the albums released, at best I might want 8, and that’s a stretch to be honest. Perhaps my tastes are less wide ranging than others, but 50, it seems a lot.
At the door, waiting to be let in, I tried to spy what was left on the shelves and was pretty
sure that two of them had already sold out. In the queue I’d watched a video the shop had posted showing the shelves and there was now a black space visible where I wanted there to be two albums. Here is that very video:
I arrived to both disappointment and delight. One of the five things I was hoping to pick up was already sold out, this being ‘Four Calendar Cafe’ by the Cocteau Twins, I had thought it might but was still holding out a little hope that there’d be one left. The delight came from there being one copy of ‘Milk & Kisses’ by The Cocteau Twins left, which was the first thing I picked up. One of five achieved, one definitely missed so three more possibilities to get. I mooched about for just a minute and then wnet to the next aisle, which was pretty rammed making looking on the lower shelves rather tricky, however, there was another of my 5, The Future Sound Of London – ‘Environments – Views’, a triple vinyl that was actually less money than I thought it would be and a numbered edition, which I hadn’t realised either, so things were looking up, two more to go.
The main album that I wanted of the two remaining to get was ‘Frengers’ by Mew, a run of 1500 in clear vinyl, pretty much like last years re-issue of ‘And the glass handed kites’. I couldn’t find it. I looked twice and the damn thing wasn’t there, so I did something I don’t normally do and asked. The member of staff who helped me was Molly, which I found out from their Facebook page. She dived into the crowd, went to the bottom shelf where I’d alredy looked twice and re-appeared with a copy. I thanked her both verbally and with a thumbs up as that cheered me up no end. Thanks again Molly. I was so cheered that I completely forgot to go for the fifth album, ‘Citrus’ by Asobi Seksu, but that’s OK as I was 50/50 about it.
On the way to the till I saw a copy of ‘AZD’ by Actress and picked that up as well, I almost had the week before but was undecided, however, I read some reviews and it scored highly, so now was as good a time as any and I had 4 new albums.
I then left the shop without looking for some of the 45’s and a couple of 12” singles I’d thought about getting as my neck was bloody killing me and I’d only been in there 10 minutes. I headed to the bottom of town and Seismic Records. I figured that it would still be busy but that the queue would have died down by now, I was wrong. I just couldn’t do it, not without medication, so I headed off to visit my Mum for an hour.
On the way home I drove past Seismic thinking I could park up and pop in, but the queue was the same size as before and I gave it a miss. A shame because I like that shop and want to support it, however, there were plenty of others doing just that already so that was OK.
When I arrived home the first thing I played was the Cocteau Twins, which held a little surprise for me as I didn’t know it had been pressed on white vinyl, so that was a bonus. I watched a youtube video a couple of days ago, one of those top tips on buying vinyl ones and it stated that coloured vinyl is a bad idea as the quality is lower, which I almost commented on as it’s bollocks, but I held back. I had listened to a podcast which had a guy on who had worked in pressing plants for years and he had said the exact opposite, with black vinyl you can get away with re-cycling offcuts and contaminants are not so much of an issue as they are hidden by the black but with coloured vinyl, single colour in particular, you can’t get away with it so they are generally as good as and often better than black. Anyway, I like coloured vinyl, I like black vinyl too. Picture Discs are a different prospect altogether though, they are crap. ‘Milk & Kisses’ came with a second disc of the singles from the same period which is really nice to have. I remember well seeing both albums on the racks when they came out and I do regret not buying them at the time. I had this idea in my head that by going to a major label the band had somehow sold out and that the music had suffered for it, I was entirely wrong of course but they did release a Christmas single which I also saw and never bought, which is a shame as I would have made a big profit if I had and would have had no problem selling it (it was ‘Frosty The Snowman/Winter Wonderland’ in case you wondered). The two albums had been selling for about £150/200, I wonder if those prices will be sustainable now these re-issues with extra tracks have become available.
Here is a bit of ‘Milk & Kisses’ playing on my own deck.
On RSD 2016 I was hugely disappointed to not get a copy of ‘and the glass handed kites’ by Mew, although I did manage to get a reasonably priced copy about 6 months later, but picking up ‘Frengers’ today was great as it has an online price of £50-£60, sometimes more. I have never really been able to understand why Mew aren’t huge, though for many selfish reasons I’m glad they aren’t. The album closer ‘Comforting Sounds’ is one of my favourite tracks and listening to it on vinyl today has been great. I think I got the last, or only copy but am not sure as I didn’t even see it on the shelf. Here is a little snippet of ‘comforting sounds’:
I sort of collect The Future Sound Of London which goes back to the Cocteau Twins as Elizabeth Frasier sang on the ‘Lifeforms’ single (which is really a mini album) and which I bought when it was released. About a year and a half ago I listened to it again, and not just for the Elizabeth Frasier bit, and found that I liked the whole of it more than I had remembered. This led me to picking up other bits and pieces when I saw them, although some are rather expensive, the ‘Lifeforms’ album and ‘Dead Cities’ being good examples, usually over £60 a copy. Recently I’ve been buying their series ‘Environments’ which is seven albums (although numbered 1-6 and then a 6.5) which has Environments 3 not available on vinyl when the others are, annoying. So this RSD triple was a must. I’ve yet to listen to it apart from the bit you can hear below, I’m looking forward to the rest of it.
Finally there’s the non-RSD album by Actress – ‘AZD’ which the reviews were absolutely right about. It is wonderfully crafted and after only one listen I’m loving it. Part of the reason for this is the album ‘6’ by FP-Oner, which I received from That Special Record as part of my subscription, I didn’t like it at first but with repeated playing it really grew on me and there are parts of the Actress album that remind me of it so I had a point of reference right away, which I hadn’t really had when listening to ‘6’ for the first time.
I do wish I’d had the stamina to queue at Sesimic but all in all it’s been a pretty successful RSD 2017 for me and I know sit in the garden, enjoying the beautiful weather and writning this up while listening to FSOL – Environments 4. Can’t complain really. I hope everybody got at least one thing they wanted.
- featured image stolen from Head records Instagram.